This morning, Religion Dispatches published my article with advice for Rick Perry from our second President, John Adams.
David Barton is right about one thing: John Adams was a religious person. Adams twice called for national days of prayer and fasting during his presidency and attended many churches of different views. Although Adams had no patience for Calvinists or Catholics, Adams had immense respect for Jesus as an enlightened teacher.
Knowing this, Benjamin Rush lamented to Adams in an 1812 letter, just prior to war with Great Britain, that his Presbyterian church voted down a petition to call on the government for a day of fasting and prayer. Rush must have expected Adams to agree. Instead, Adams did not and said that his national fasts had caused the loss of the presidency.
Essentially, Adams said meddling with religion by political leaders can lead to all sorts of mischief, including people worrying that the leaders favor one religion over another in national affairs. Adams wrote to Rush:
That assembly has allarmed and alienated Quakers, Anabaptists, Mennonists, Moravians, Swedenborgians, Methodists, Catholicks, protestant Episcopalians, Arians, Socinians, Armenians, &c, &c, &c, Atheists and Deists might be added. A general Suspicion prevailed that the Presbyterian Church was ambitious and aimed at an Establishment as a National Church. I was represented as a Presbyterian and at the head of this political and ecclesiastical Project. The secret whispers ran through them [all the sects] “Let us have Jefferson, Madison, Burr, any body, whether they be Philosophers, Deists, or even Atheists, rather than a Presbyterian President.” This principle is at the bottom of the unpopularity of national Fasts and Thanksgiving. Nothing is more dreaded than the National Government meddling with Religion.
Note to Rick Perry and the AFA: the opposition and criticism you are getting over The Response is not of necessity the sign of an America in moral decline. Complaints about government leaders meddling in religion go back to the beginning of the nation.
Go over to RD and read the entire piece.